John Paul II celebrated the 25th anniversary of his pontificate to thunderous
applause by many conservatives. The Weekly Standard's David Brooks argues
in his new column in the New York Times that the Pope deserved the Nobel
Peace Prize. The San Diego Union Tribune gushes that "John Paul II is
one of the towering figures of the last century... no one questions the
moral force of this pope."
assessment is far more measured and accurate. It describes John Paul II's
time in office as an "extraordinary tenure." Extraordinary, to be sure,
but certainly not virtuous. John Paul II took an institution just beginning
to throw off the chains of centuries of insularity and autocracy and,
to be plain speaking, reshaped it into what can only be described as a
history may be in order. In 1958 Pope John XXIII assumed the papacy. Within
months he called for an "aggiornamiento," a "bringing up to date" of the
church. Church services began to be conducted in native languages. Priests
and nuns and laity were given more participation and authority. "Let the
layman not imagine that his pastors are always experts," the Vatican declared.
"Rather, enlightened by Christian wisdom let the layman take on his own
convened a Vatican Council that ended centuries of what he called "holy
isolation" by exhorting the church to participate in humanity's struggle
for peace and justice. The Vatican called this new church the "People
XXIII died shortly after Vatican II convened. But the reforms he nurtured
took root and flowered under his successor. Journalist Gwynne Dyer recently
recalled his impressions after visiting Catholic churches around the world
in 1978 in preparation for a televised documentary. "In southern Africa,
Catholics were playing a leading role in resistance to apartheid. In Latin
America, the phenomenon of 'liberation theology' was reconnecting the
church with the impoverished peasant millions whom it had long ignored.
In Europe and North America, the old hierarchies were all under challenge,
but especially the hierarchy of gender. Justice and equality were the
themes and the energy was astonishing."
years later," Dyer sadly observes, "it is all gone."
II attended the Vatican Council meetings in the '60s and opposed the changes.
Upon taking office he undertook to reverse them. To achieve this goal
he dramatically centralised and exercised powers. His interventions roused
widespread opposition. In 1989, for example, over 300 eminent European
theologians, including a number in Rome itself, signed onto the Cologne
Declaration, which accused the pope of "overstepping and enforcing in
an inadmissible way" his proper competence in field of doctrinal teaching.
It accused him of appointing bishops throughout the world "without respecting
the suggestions of the local churches and neglecting their established
rights." It described the Vatican's removal of qualified theologians from
teaching because it didn't like what they were saying as "a dangerous
intrusion into the freedom of research and teaching."
In the '80s
French theologican Marie-Dominique Chenu put it bluntly. John Paul harkens
back to the "prototype of the church as an absolute monarchy."
As is usually
the case with absolute monarchs, Pope John Paul II refused to listen to
the people. He became even more aggressive. The Vatican announced that
as of March 1, 1989 all church office holders, be they parish priests
or philosophy and theology teachers in seminaries, must not only give
formal assent to major church dogmas but also assent to doctrine not formerly
proclaimed as obligatory, such as the Church's teachings on sex.
II reasserted and even amplified the doctrine of Papal infallibility and
beatified its author, Pope Pius IX. When the world's Catholic bishops
gathered in Rome every five years it was not to be involved in a give-and-take
discussion but to receive the Word from the pope, and, notes Time, to
be "quiz(zed) on instances in which they may have been deemed insufficiently
aggressive in defending Church doctrine."
John Paul II "steadfastly held the line against those in the European
and North American clergy and laity who saw in Vatican II an opening to
democratise the Church... inside the Church his own rule will be remembered
as nothing if not authoritarian."
Back in 1979
the eminent Swiss Catholic theologican Hans Kung, whose license to teach
theology in Catholic institutions was revoked by the Vatican, observed
that the new pope, "has waged an almost spooky battle against modern women
who seek a contemporary form of life." Since then, the pope has barred
even discussion of the ordination of women.
Even in his
final days the pope continues to imprint his remarkably archaic values
on the Church. A recent draft directive from the Vatican would bar altar
girls, thereby eliminating one of the few remaining areas of participation
in the Church allowed to women. Priests can only allow girls to help them
at mass if they receive special dispensation from the bishop and offer
"just cause." Priests, the draft advises, ought "never to feel themselves
obliged to recruit girls."
directive also would prohibit Roman Catholics from dancing or even clapping
in their churches. It would forbid priests from quoting ethical texts
other than the Gospels in their sermons.
By all reports
the pope is near death. But his impact on the Church will continue for
many years. For the Pope has used his long term in office not only to
change its direction but to virtually handpick those who will become the
new Church leaders.
Paul has been far more active than his predecessors in stocking Church
offices with his own people. In 15 years his predecessor Paul VI made
only 26 new cardinals, but in 25 years Pope John Paul has made 226. He
has created nearly 500 saints, more than all of the other popes of the
past four centuries put together. Pope John Paul II has appointed more
than 70 per cent of all Catholic bishops, and all but five of the 135
cardinals who will choose his successor.
His has been an "extraordinary tenure." One that will burden the Catholic
Church for generations to come.
David Morris, a regular contributor to AlterNet, is the executive director
of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance
in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
more... email firstname.lastname@example.org
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IRAQ POLICY: A QUAGMIRE OF CONFUSION
administration's move to blacklist the very same countries
it is asking to forgive Iraq's debt is not a sign of arrogance,
but hopelessly muddled decision-making.
BREAKING RANKS IN AFGHANISTAN
Chayes, Columbia Journalism Review
A former NPR reporter turned activist discovers the exhilarating
power speaking the truth as she sees it.
LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH AND FATUOUS
Terry Sawyer, PopMatters
A new reality show starring two ditsy heiresses is the harshest
indictment of wealth and privilege to air on television.
Nichols, The Nation
Anyone with doubts about the objectivity of the U.S. media
need only look at the coverage of Bush's trip to Baghdad in
the foreign press.
THE HELL SAID THAT?
are these people and why are they saying such outrageous things?
Looks like it's time for the 2003 Totally Full of Crap Award.
PROFESSOR TAKES THE GLOVES OFF
Terrence McNally, AlterNet
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman tells how he found his
voice, why Bush makes him miss Nixon, and why he insults Fox
News whenever he can.
PRESIDENT, YOU'RE NO MOSES
Robert Scheer, AlterNet
Bush now wants us to believe the Iraq war was about spreading
freedom by force -- but liars can't be liberators.
Al Gore, MoveOn.org
The sacrifice of civil liberties for the appearance of greater
security is a mistake that will leave future generations with
little hope for freedom.
Ted Sexauer, AlterNet
We will soon be welcoming home the first of another generation
of emotionally damaged veterans. How can we appropriately
honor them without glorifying war?
VOICES: APOLOGY TO THE AMERICAN WORKER
Norma Sherry, AlterNet
I actually thought Nike and Adidas and Delta and Sara Lee
were American companies run by American employees. I admit,
I was confused.
TRUTH ABOUT THE GREEN RIVER KILLER
Silja J.A. Talvi, AlterNet
Gary Ridgway should have been caught a long time ago. His
choice of victims had everything to do with why he wasn't.
'THING' ECONOMY AND THE 'CARE' ECONOMY
Fred Block, AlterNet
A truly moral economy would reconcile our desire to prosper
with our deepest moral and spiritual impulses.
Elijah Wald, AlterNet
U.S. government propaganda doesn't convince Iraqis -- so why
do Americans fall for it?
TROOPS OF THE RIGHT WING
David Morris, AlterNet
Censoring television movies, overturning court decisions,
halting construction projects -- just what will conservatives
SECURITY: THE TV SHOW
Cynthia Fuchs, PopPolitics.com
Threat Matrix, the first television show about homeland security,
is both too boring and too disturbing to be entertaining.
MANY BODY BAGS?
Robert Scheer, AlterNet
Unless we are willing to trade the lives of U.S. troops and
Iraqis for the obsessions of empire, we must end the occupation
IMPORTANCE OF BEING JOE WILSON
Lakshmi Chaudhry, AlterNet
The man responsible for striking the first major blow against
Bush's case for war (and who is a centerpiece of the new film
'Uncovered: The Whole Truth About the War in Iraq') talks
about Dick Cheney, White House lies and the vendetta aimed
at his wife.
MORE PRESSURE ON ASHCROFT TO RECUSE HIMSELF
Murray Waas, AlterNet
Some senior law enforcement officials believe the conflict
of interest is too obvious to be ignored.
VOICES: SHOWING BUSH THE DOOR IN 2004
Allan Hunt Badiner, AlterNet
A Howard Dean/ Wesley Clark ticket gives countless millions
who have vowed to vote for 'anybody but Bush' a reason to
believe he can be beaten.
Armond White, Africana.com
Succeeding where 'Monster's Ball' failed on so many fronts,
'The Human Stain' is one of the bravest -- and strangest --
Hollywood movies in recent years.
OVERKILL OF 'BILL'
Jamal Dajani, Pacific News Service
Though news viewers around the world watch the most gruesome
violence unfold on their television screens, Americans only
encounter such images in the make-believe world of Hollywood
Susan Sontag, tomdispatch.com
Recently awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade,
Susan Sontag reflects on the increasingly embattled relationship
between Europe and the United States.
Christopher Scheer, AlterNet
Some journalists can't resist trying to micromanage the Iraq
occupation from afar.
LIES, AND MORE LIES
Monte Paulsen, Dragonfly Review of Books
With an election year looming, an avalanche of new books bashing
George W. Bush is pouring into bookstores.
Karen Rignall, TomPaine.com
The Patriot Act may be on its way out -- along with 13,000
Arabs and Muslims.
RECIPE WINS NO PRIZES
Traci Hukill, AlterNet
With its totally unfocused message and the fact that organizers
missed a golden opportunity by not holding it three weeks
earlier, was Saturday's anti-war rally in Washington, DC a
PRISONERS OF WAR
Ian Urbina, AlterNet
American soldiers are well equipped with weapons, clothes,
vehicles, radios and maps -- thanks in large measure to the
21,000 inmates working for Federal Prison Industries.
Mike Davis, tomdispatch.com
In Southern California, climate, ecology, and stupid urbanization
have conspired to create the ingredients for one of the most
devastating fires in history.
Stan Cox, AlterNet
It's an open secret that U.S. business has become hooked on
profits generated by illegal immigration, and in its remorseless
drive toward Always Low Prices, Wal-Mart is no exception.
IS YOUR BRAIN ON PUBLIC RELATIONS
Kenny Ausubel, AlterNet
How do conservative politicians manipulate the public into
harming the environment, even though the majority of Americans
want to protect it?
CHENEY, COMMANDER IN CHIEF
Jim Lobe, AlterNet
When it comes to U.S. foreign policy, it is the vice president,
not George W. Bush, who calls the shots.
PERSON DOESN'T SOUND WHITE
Ziba Kashef, ColorLines
As I contemplate naming my son, I'm torn between the wish
to emphasize his ethnicity and the desire to minimize the
potential for discrimination against him.
Mary Jo McConahay, Pacific News Service
For black residents of a smoggy neighborhood, the governments
failure to address environmental racism is felt each time
they take a breath.
Farai Chideya, AlterNet
The most troubling aspect of the Boykin incident is not the
general's religious warmongering, but the Bush administration's
reaction to his comments.
PENTAGON'S ACHILLES HEEL
Steven Rosenfeld, TomPaine.com
The hundreds of injured Iraq War soldiers languishing at Ft.
Stewart, Georgia, aren't an isolated case.
Patrick Letellier, AlterNet
Gay couples worldwide are secretly plotting to destroy the
bedrock of modern civilization. What are they after? Marriage!
TRUTH ABOUT OUR GOOD INTENTIONS
Meline Toumani, AlterNet
The U.S. presence in Iraq looks like one more foreign aid
program in which moneyed Americans set up shop in distant
villages to teach people how to do things the American way.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES OUT
Kenny Ausubel, AlterNet
Bioneers founder Kenny Ausubel says turbocharged technologies
and overwhelming numbers have given us, for the first time
in history, the capacity to blow it on a planetary scale.
Matt Wheeland, AlterNet
The 13th annual Bioneers Conference showcases the leading
lights in environmental activism and progressive politics.
DEATH AND DEMOCRACY IN IRAN
Ladane Nasseri, The Nation
The brutal killing of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi
has become ammunition for reformers looking to weaken the
grip of Islamic hard-liners.
Armond White, Africana.com
In 'Kill Bill,' Quentin Tarantino continues to cause critics
to question his handling of race on the big screen.
ENDANGERED ANIMALS BY KILLING THEM?
Joanne Mariner, FindLaw.com
Roosevelt's 'love them and kill them' approach is the obvious
antecedent of a new endangered species policy that the Bush
Administration announced this summer.
DIFFERENT PATH TO MIDEAST FREEDOM
Behrouz Saba, Pacific News Service
Instead of war and military occupation, the Bush administration
could promote the best of American values in the Mideast by
finding and supporting people like Nobel winner Shirin Ebadi.
AND TED, A POTBOILER
Diane Middlebrook, The Chronicle of
The new film 'Sylvia' is not actually about a writer. Mostly,
it's about a talented girl who dries up and goes mad as a
housewife struggling in the shadow of a powerful man.
FICKLE SLEEPING GIANT
Ana Perez, AlterNet
Because of the social ills from which our adopted country
suffers, Latinos continue to be the sleeping giant in California
and the nation's politics.
Melinda Welsh, Sacramento News &
If you still don't believe that global warming is a reality,
go visit a glacier and listen to it drip, drip, drip.
MY GOD -- IT'S AH-NOLD
Christopher Scheer, AlterNet
There's nothing shocking about the result of California's
recall election. Electing Arnold teaches us the same old lessons.
LONG, MIDDLE EAST ROAD MAP
Ian Williams, AlterNet
The Bush administration's support of the Israeli attacks on
Syria spells the end to any pretense of a balanced U.S. Middle
LIKE I THOUGHT I WAS
Erin Aubry Kaplan, LA Weekly
The surprising outcome of a DNA test proves a man's race while
throwing his blackness into question.
UP THE IRAQ PIE
Stephen Pizzo, misleader.com
Halliburton's share of Iraq reconstruction contracts is but
a slice of a multi-billion dollar pie being divided up among
a brotherhood of well connected individuals -- and here they
John Feffer, TomPaine.com
The only force capable of checking the excesses of the world's
lone superpower is the American public, and the polls suggest
that we may be ready to do just that.
Greg Palast, AlterNet
If Arnold wins, it's hasta la vista baby, to the $9 billion
owed to the state of California by Enron and the other electricity
THEM EAT WAR
Arlie Hochschild, tomdispatch.com
George Bush doesn't represent the economic interests of working-class
people. So why are so many blue-collar voters pro-Bush?
'N' ROLL IS THE NEW HIP HOP
Russell Morse, Pacific News Service
Hip hop heads may think it's lame, but even the most progressive
and influential hip hop artists have taken the cue -- rock
is where it's at.
Stephanie Mencimer, Washington Monthly
The new book 'Food, Inc.' gives a much more nuanced assessment
of biotech food issues than you'll hear from the Bush administration.
FACES U.S. MEDIA INVASION
Anita Roddick, MediaChannel.org
With Viacom gearing up to enter the market, British television
may soon fall prey to the same corporate agenda stifling dissent
in the U.S. media.
HAZARDS OF WATCHING FOX NEWS
Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service
A new study shows that patrons of Rupert Murdoch's brand of
journalism are most likely to be misinformed about key facts
of the Iraq war.
TIES THAT BLIND
Jeremy Scahill and Amy Goodman, Democracy
Despite clear conflicts of interest, Ashcroft is refusing
to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate Karl Rove's
involvement in the CIA leak.
Marsha Rosenbaum, AlterNet
If young Americans are ever to believe what our government
tells them about drugs and other policy issues, we must be
sure that our messages are based on sound science rather than
RUSH TO DARKNESS
Bill Berkowitz, WorkingForChange.
While the McNabb controversy is unlikely to dent his career,
the brewing scandal over Limbaugh's drug problem may just
shut him up.